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Using the Layers Panel in Adobe Photoshop CS5


  1. Using the Layers panel

Article Description

This excerpt from Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book shows you how to use the Layers panel to hide, view, reposition, delete, rename, and merge layers.

Note: This excerpt does not include the lesson files. The lesson files are available with purchase of the book.

The Layers panel lists all the layers in an image, displaying the layer names and thumbnails of the content on each layer. You can use the Layers panel to hide, view, reposition, delete, rename, and merge layers. The layer thumbnails are automatically updated as you edit the layers.

  1. If the Layers panel is not visible in the work area, choose Window > Layers.

    The Layers panel lists five layers for the 04Working.psd file (from top to bottom): Postage, HAWAII, Flower, Pineapple, and Background.

  2. Select the Background layer to make it active (if it’s not already selected). Notice the layer thumbnail and the icons on the Background layer level:
    • The lock icon (lock.jpg) indicates that the layer is protected.
    • The eye icon (eye.jpg) indicates that the layer is visible in the image window. If you click the eye, the image window no longer displays that layer.

    The first task for this project is to add a photo of the beach to the postcard. First, you’ll open the beach image in Photoshop.

  3. In the Mini Bridge panel, double-click the Beach.psd file in the Lesson04 folder to open it in Photoshop.

The Layers panel changes to display the layer information for the active Beach.psd file. Notice that only one layer appears in the Beach.psd image: Layer 1, not Background. (For more information, see the sidebar, “About the background layer.”)

Renaming and copying a layer

To add content to an image and create a new layer for it simultaneously, drag an object or layer from one file into the image window of another file. Whether you drag from the image window of the original file or from its Layers panel, only the active layer is reproduced in the destination file.

You’ll drag the Beach.psd image onto the 04Working.psd file. Before you begin, make sure that both the 04Working.psd and Beach.psd files are open, and that the Beach.psd file is selected.

First, you’ll give Layer 1 a more descriptive name.

  1. In the Layers panel, double-click the name Layer 1, type Beach, and then press Enter or Return. Keep the layer selected.
  2. Click the Arrange Documents button (document-button.jpg) in the Application bar, and then select one of the 2 Up layouts. Photoshop displays both of the open image files. Select the Beach.psd image so that it is the active file.
  3. Select the Move tool (move-tool.jpg), and use it to drag the Beach.psd image onto the 04Working.psd image window.

    The Beach layer now appears in the 04Working.psd file image window and its Layers panel, between the Background and Pineapple layers. Photoshop always adds new layers directly above the selected layer; you selected the Background layer earlier.

  4. Close the Beach.psd file without saving changes to it.

Viewing individual layers

The 04Working.psd file now contains six layers. Some of the layers are visible and some are hidden. The eye icon (eye.jpg) next to a layer thumbnail in the Layers panel indicates that the layer is visible.

  1. Click the eye icon (eye.jpg) next to the Pineapple layer to hide the image of the pineapple.

    You can hide or show a layer by clicking this icon or clicking in its column—also called the Show/Hide Visibility column.

  2. Click again in the Show/Hide Visibility column to display the pineapple.

Adding a border to a layer

Now you’ll add a white border around the Beach layer to create the impression that it’s a photograph.

  1. Select the Beach layer. (To select the layer, click the layer name in the Layers panel.)

    The layer is highlighted, indicating that it is active. Changes you make in the image window affect the active layer.

  2. To make the opaque areas on this layer more obvious, hide all layers except the Beach layer: Press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) as you click the eye icon (eye.jpg) next to the Beach layer.

    The white background and other objects in the image disappear, leaving only the beach image against a checkerboard background. The checkerboard indicates transparent areas of the active layer.

  3. Choose Layer > Layer Style > Stroke.

    The Layer Style dialog box opens. Now you’ll select the options for the white stroke around the beach image.

  4. Specify the following settings:
    • Size: 5 px
    • Position: Inside
    • Blend Mode: Normal
    • Opacity: 100%
    • Color: White (Click the Color box, and select white in the Color Picker.)
  5. Click OK. A white border appears around the beach photo.